Janet Levine, Director – National Educators Institute at Milton Academy, Massachusetts.
© 1997 TPI Janet Levine: Transforming Teaching Workshops

Click here for the Triads Personality Indicator for Parents.

This inventory is designed to help you understand your basic patterns of behavior — how you think and how you feel. This vital information underlies what motivates you, why you make the decisions you do, what sort of educator you are, why you interact with others the way you do. The questionnaire was compiled from research and interviews and tested initially on over one thousand educators at all levels. Refined from their feedback, the instrument directs you accurately to your Enneagram strategy. It pinpoints the many behavioral traits that make you who you are, explains why you do what you do, and demonstrates how you do it. Understanding yourself and what drives you is among the most valuable assets you can have as an educator.


Choose one of the three categories following each question. At the end of this section you can ascertain your score. Your personality modality is indicated by the majority of your choices. Detailed descriptions and explanations of the personality strategies with each modality follow. Do not think for long about your response. Read the question and accompanying statements, and circle one without further thought. If you cannot decide on an option, chose the one that fits you the closest.

How I Think? How I Feel?

1.) You are part of an evaluation team evaluating colleagues in the classroom. Observing another teacher gets you thinking about your own teaching. You assess your teaching style as:

a. My teaching style has to do with interaction and energy, with connecting to people. I ask myself if I’m getting through on an emotional level, if students understand where I’m coming from? How am I coming across, how do others see me? It’s important that we connect in a meaningful way.

b. My teaching style is intuitive, I have a “gut” feel about what is right and wrong, fair and unfair. I don’t like the sense that I’m being crowded — whether by institutional rules, expectations of others, demands that are extraneous to the job I’m doing. I have a great need to say what I have to say, to be heeded.

c. My teaching style is intellectual, no question. I’m interested in how people think, process information, work with ideas. I live in my head — conceptualizing, fantasizing, thinking things through are important to me. Rationality is a big word with me.

2.) In thinking through the details of your teaching style, you assess the way you communicate and present materials:

a. What you see is what you get. I don’t use guile, or fancy gimmicks. I present the way I understand it, I give it my best shot. Students get my honest sense of how it is.

b. Presentation connection, performance is important to me — the medium is the message, that kind of thing. So I try and put on a show, highlight the work, find the nuances of expression that will enhance the basics. I use emotion and show-time, anything that will help students become engaged learners.

c. I try and keep things as conceptual, uncluttered and intellectually pure as I can. I teach them to ask questions, to practice skepticism, to be discerning thinkers. I try to probe below the surface: if we can stick with what’s rational, we’re on solid ground.

3.) If you were being evaluated, how would you answer the question: why do you teach?

a. I teach because of the mental activity, of finding answers, of the excitement that comes from seeing young minds open to the possibilities, to big picture connections, to new conclusions. The mental energy in the classroom stimulates my own thinking.

b. I teach because I value people, and I love the possibilities of all sorts of human contact and connection: the emotional highs and lows, the feeling of achievement when we all “click” and experience some profound interconnection in the moment. The classroom is like the theater when the audience and the actors become one — union built on empathy, little else.

c. I teach because in a profound way I want to develop young people and help them in a direction where they can make capable, competent life-choices for themselves. People need a sense of themselves, of where they stand in the world. The world is difficult to understand, you can lose your way all too easily. I want to give people some skills, some tools, some road maps to take on their journeys.

4.) Although you get along with most students you teach, every so often one comes along who clashes with your style and doesn’t like you. Why?

a. I come on too emotionally when I present things, they often feel like I’m trying to manipulate them into interacting with me. Why can’t I say things out straight. I try to shine it on, it’s almost like I need their approval.

b. I’m too abstract, too theoretical, too detached. They need more emotional, personal interaction from me. We’re talking, I’m listening, but they have this sense that I’m not really there, I’ve moved to somewhere in my head. The harder they try to know where they are with me, the more I distance myself. They ask if anything gets through to me emotionally?

c. I have a sense of boundaries around myself. I can come across as an immovable force, solid, implacable, although I’m not usually aware of this. I know I can dig in and nothing people say, or do, will shift me. I’ve been accused of being overly defensive, stubborn, critical. I’m not usually aware of my impact on people.

5.) One of your students is in serious trouble because of a grave misdemeanor. You are the one who gets to break the news. How do you approach this difficult meeting?

a. I’ll send her a memo detailing all the reasons why this outcome is inevitable. That way she’ll have time to think things over and we can have a rational discussion and not get caught up in emotions. She knows what I feel for her personally, this has nothing to do with that — it’s a disciplinary decision, based on school rules.

b. I’ll call her in and tell it to her straight. We’ve known one another long enough, we know where we stand. This does not affect my relationship with her, it’s school rules. It will be hard, but face-to-face, saying it straight without any extraneous talk — that’s always the best way to do these difficult encounters.

c. I don’t like doing this, it strikes at the core of me. We know one another well, have a good understanding, a good connection. I know what she’ll be feeling, as if it were myself. How best to put this across? I’m more anxious about this than I want to admit — emotional upsets really get to me. She’ll accept it any way I tell her.

6.) The Head/Dean informs your department that due to budget cuts one teacher is to be let go. You think it might be you. How do you react?

a. Disbelief, I can’t accept this at all. I knew cuts were coming, but not in this department. I’ve been with the school since I started teaching. I feel like my heart has been wrenched out of me, I’m so connected here. I can’t get beyond my feelings, I’ll never get over this one.

b. I guess I should have seen this coming. All the signs were there, I just didn’t think they were pointing in my direction. If you think about it rationally and logically, it’s a perfectly legitimate business decision. I allowed myself to be blind-sided. I’ve learned a lot here, I’ll get good references, I know a lot of people in education. Maybe it’s time to move on anyway: it’s a shove I need. I won’t take this personally.

c. Uncomfortable, I have so much anger in me. There’s no place to fell you belong in this world. I did everything anyone could ask of me here. You get slammed one way or the other. The anger is overwhelming, I feel it in my whole body. This just reinforces my sense that life is unfair, life is hard. My mistake was to leave myself open to be kicked around.

7.) You want to be a great educator — your dream reflects the deepest parts of yourself. Your passion for your vision stems from:

a. A feeling that I’ve got something people can relate to, I believe I’ve got what it takes to put across my vision in a way that’s honest, good, and effective. It’s all about people. I can get through to people, I’m in tune, I understand people. In my heart I know this is true.

b. A hunch, an instinct that I’m in the right place at the right time doing what I’m supposed to be doing — when my head, heart and belly are aligned behind something, I can trust that sense. I can put my full force behind it. I would never commit myself, if I didn’t feel one hundred percent about it.

c. The knowledge that I’ve thought through first rate ideas that will be of benefit and break new ground in terms of concepts. I wouldn’t be teaching if I wasn’t convinced of the validity of my ideas. If I wasn’t one hundred percent sure of my thinking I wouldn’t be putting myself on the line.

8.) You are sitting opposite the recruitment head of a school trying to convince her to give you a position. You feel confident you can land the job because:

a. Of my proven record as an ideas person. No-one can question that what I do is conceptually thought through and mentally sound. My references attest to my theoretical ability and know-how. I’m as intellectualy solid a teacher as any on the market.

b. Of my track record of getting through to people. Whether it’s in the classroom, the soccer team, the library committee, running the PTA auction, I’ve always been able to put across what I believe in a way that people feel they want to be part of it. I know people, people are my life. I can get the world on board.

c. Of the fact I just know this is the right job for me, I can fit reight in here. I have reliable instincts. I’ve proven it to myself and others time and again. Lots of people have made good from my instincts. Only something that I believe in one hundred percent would get me into this chair to ask for this job. Students know where they stand with me, that makes them feel safe.

9) Your peers nominate you for a Teaching Excellence award. What is your response?

a. The award is objective validation that the way I think about what I teach, my intellectual energy and the highly mental approach I bring to teaching is verifiable, something others can measure. I’m pleased.

b. Public recognition for my efforts is gratifying, but it’s not about me, I’m not what I do. This award won’t change things one way or the other, make me a better person, or bring meaning to my life. I’ll just go on teaching the way I always have.

c. I know I’m a good teacher, so I deserve this, but many of my colleagues are good teachers, too. What is important about this, is that I was nominated by my peers. That means the world to me. Enough people know me and value me and want to acknowledge me this way. That really gets to me.

SCORE: The following majority of choices indicate your modality. You may find you have several choices in different areas. There are sound Enneagram reasons for this that have to do with the stress/secure shifts from your core point. For example, many educators are secure in their teaching style and the inventory can reflect this. Nonetheless your primary triad is the one that shows the most choices.

Attacher: 1a, 2b, 3b, 4a, 5c, 6a, 7a, 8b, 9c

Detacher: 1c, 2c, 3a, 4b, 5a, 6b, 7c, 8a, 9a

Defender: 1b, 2a, 3c, 4c, 5b, 6c, 7b, 8c, 9b

Please read the accompanying explanation and descriptions. Read the three profiles in your triad first. Find yourself, then go on to read the others.

Triads Personality
Explanation and Profiles

People are different. We all know this to be true. Not just the obvious differences of age, sex, race, life circumstances, ethnicity. But different personalities, different behaviors, motivations, actions and reactions, different ways of understanding, of deciding what’ s important, of communicating. We all know people feel differently about the same situation. Let’s talk about feelings – there are different responses to, for instance, personal feed back. Some people respond on an emotional level. Dawn tries to empathize with the person giving the feed back. Jack adjusts his persona to accommodate the feed back to his image. Paul wants to connect meaningfully with the emotions behind the feed back. Some people experience feelings mentally. Betty tries to understand the interconnections in the ideas of the feed back. David doubts what he’s hearing. Suzy hears several options in the feed back. Some people experience feelings in the context of interpersonal boundaries.

Different people think differently. What about the news that there is an earthquake in San Francisco? Dawn thinks about the victims and seeks ways to help through relief agencies. Jack thinks he’s lucky not to be there, groveling in the ruins of all he’s built. Paul thinks of the high drama, and connects with the suffering, pain and heroism of those involved. Betty thinks about earthquakes: where do they come from, how do they occur? David thinks of all the times he. s told people he knows in the Bay area that this would happen. Suzy thinks of the different ways she’d go about rebuilding. Chris reacts with rage in the face of his vulnerability when it comes to natural disasters. Bob takes the long view that events like the earthquake are part of life and life goes on. Laura thinks of how much death and destruction could be avoided if people adhered to stricter building codes.

How we think and how we feel — habits of heart and mind — different personalities.

There are three distinct modalities of being, three broad patterns of behavior, three basic motivations driving people to operate in the world. One modality can be described as outer-directed attention, a way of making sense of and operating in the world through attachment to people and relationships. The emotional context is the ATTACHERS. environment. Another modality can be described as inner-directed attention, a way of making sense of and operating in the world from inside one’s head. The mental context is the DETACHERS’ environment. The third modality can be described as self-protective attention, a way of making sense of and operating in the world with an awareness of boundaries. The instinctual context is the DEFENDERS’ environment.

These three modalities are primary patterns of behavior, we each make our way in the world primarily as Attachers, Detachers, or Defenders. This does not mean that Detachers and Defenders are not emotional, or that Attachers and Defenders are not intellectual, or that Detachers and Attachers do not also struggle with boundaries of self and other-ness. We are a complex fusion of these three ways of being, but one is always dominant.

Within each of the broad patterns presented by these modalities are three versions of how emotional, mental, and instinctual attention manifests in personality. The three modalities and profiles of the nine personality strategies are described below.


If you are an Attacher your predominant mode of being is emotional. Being outer-directed, moving toward people, and knowing where you stand emotionally in relation to others are central preoccupations; the dominant issue is approval. Do they like me? You are activated by your feelings: how you feel about yourself each day, what moods and emotions you are dealing with affects all you do. These inner triggers direct your behavior. You are aware of the feelings of others and how you are coming across-issues of image are important. Your defenses are marshaled around feelings: to make your way in the world, you have to learn to deal with feelings. Some Attachers take pride in denying to themselves that they have feelings. Other Attachers suspend their feelings, so they don’t interfere with getting the job done. Yet others are constantly aware of their feelings and can lose their agenda if they allow feelings to overwhelm them. All Attachers use feelings to open their hearts to others.

Key Issues for Attachers

  • Connection: reaching out, getting through, making contact is affirming to Attachers.
  • Approval: gaining approval is a major motivation for Attachers.
  • Image: central concerns are tied up in image — how am I coming across to others, what image am I conveying, how are people responding to me?


Helpers struggle to know their own needs, but instinctively know the needs of others. They are sensitive to other people’s feelings. What motivates them at work and at play is knowing what others need. Helpers convey feelings of warmth, understanding, and genuine concern in their interactions. Sometimes they feel frustrated because they’re not able to do as much for others as they would like. To feel comfortable with others, Helpers rely on interpersonal alignment; they can be sweetly effusive, sincere and quietly empathetic, firm and plain-talking-all at the same time depending on the person with whom they are interacting. Helpers have to be careful, but can juggle several personas concurrently. They pitch their conversations to elicit approval from others. The subtext of their conversation is based on personal appeal: “Look what I can do for you. You need my help. I am here to serve you.” They feel misunderstood if others think they’re trying to manipulate them: they want to be perceived

Helpers develop a gracious environment whether at home or at work built on mutual approval. They pick proteges, or champion persons of consequence. The selected person is wrapped in a cloak of largess and service. Helpers work long hours to open doors, and keep them open, with anticipatory expectations of gratitude and heightened emotional responsiveness in return. Yet helpers can feel harried by their constant need for approval and acceptance. Often Helpers recognize that they have a need to give, but far more subtle insight is required if they are to see that their sub-text in giving is a need to be loved, to be popular, to be admired. If they feel underappreciated they can become emotional and demanding.

Helpers project a positive persona and turn on stellar performances day after day. They are usually popular. Their excellent communication skills, the special care and attention they turn on for bosses, or peers they deem significant, elicit admiration, popularity and love. Helpers breathe approval like oxygen. This is the bottom line – the need to be approved, even loved, is the reason for giving.

Helpers appear to be independent but internally know how much time they spend attending to others. They attend to the needs of a group as a whole, but they assiduously monitor the progress of several “favorites.” They can keep a mental tab running of different peoples’ schedules and agendas’ and manifest unexpected, but appreciated, behind-the-scenes support. They value the private confidentiality and emotional resonance such support engenders.

Helpers do not like their efforts to appear self-serving, but will give unstintingly of themselves on behalf of the organization for which they work. It is tempting to devote too much time to a job that has interpersonal appeal. They will volunteer to do the additional assignment, or spend extra unforeseen hours on a project. They devote time to developing peers’ potential, and welfare, and take pride in others’ accomplishments, while often thinking: “They couldn’t have done that without me.” They work hard at making relationships happen. The allure of someone else’s needs always seems more important than the Helpers’ own needs.


Performers literally perform, both in the sense of getting the job done, and constantly seeking to be the center of attention. Performers like to think of themselves as the role models of their professions – the image is of confidence, brisk efficiency, solid skills, and leadership. They believe who they are as people is tied up with what they accomplish. Coming first, being a winner, is strong motivation for Performers, who get a lot of recognition and reward for what they do. Performers play a central role in their undertakings, they are unmistakably present; they create the environment, set tasks, direct interactions, achieve goals. They communicate by persuasion: “This model works for me, it’ll work for you.” They get a lot done, most of it successfully.

Performers play to their peers and colleagues, basking in the applause and approval. They play their “audience” with skill and a finely tuned ability to pick up on pockets of resistance to their message. They adjust their voice, vocabulary, emotional range and body language until they feel they have their “audience” (even if it’s one other person) “in their hand.” Performers are goal-directed: they drive themselves and expect the same commitment from others.

The results are what count – get the job done, efficiently, without fuss or fretting. Performers will not be bothered with their own or others’ feelings or emotional responses; not if these stand in the way of completing the task at hand. They are impatient with people who waste their time through bad planning and inefficiency. They hate being held up by illness, incompetence, whatever-and will rather complete the task themselves. Natural leaders, they are also team players when they respect the leader.

Performers sweep up others in their forward-driving energy. They move directly from idea to action with little time lag to accommodate the hesitancy of more skeptical or cautious peers. They know from experience how hard it is for others to resist their goal-directed momentum. Performers thrive on the energy and excitement generated by their interactions with others. It is a high when the energy drives a meeting along.

Performers see the overall goal as getting from Point A to Point Z. This goal is sorted into various tasks, prioritized, and assigned a time frame – two hours, within a week, this quarter. The larger goal is made manageable in sequential blocks of time. Performers can juggle several tasks at the same time. Time not used to do something, is time wasted. Performers think in terms of deadlines – an objective measure of progress at any given time.

Performers feel an illusion of control when there is constant activity around them. In the downtime after attaining a goal, often Performers can be at a loss what to do with themselves. There is time and space to regard peers and colleagues, not as units to fulfill the Performers agenda, but as people with their own priorities, problems, and responses. This is when Performers. experience feelings and become aware of their exhaustion, accompanied by an unwelcome insecurity. Doubts can arise that affect the Performers. overarching self-confidence. But the time can be used by Performers to think things through, replacing their tendency to what is often glib superficiality and quick-fix answers.


The Royal Family live in a rich emotional world. They have a sense of their own uniqueness, yet, paradoxically, Royals focus not on what they have, but on what. s missing. The Royal Family think of themselves as different from others, and can often feel lonely and misunderstood. They feel they bring the gift of themselves. unique, creative talent and depth. to both what they do and to the people with whom they interact. They care deeply about people and seek emotionally meaningful connections. They take pride in their own and their peers. achievements and experience a fulfilling emotional connection at being part of meaningful and valuable creativity: “Something special.” Royals devalue themselves in comparison to others who seem to have more, or better. This self-denigration can manifest as competitive envy.

Royals embody emotionality, and a dramatic tone imbues their relationships. Relationships are all-important. They regard themselves as sensitive, with the ability to experience feelings deeply. Royals are aware of a push-pull in relationships: they can come across as aloof and self-absorbed or, conversely, as vitally interested. this inconsistency is often bewildering to others.

Royals often violate boundaries in other people because they yearn for connection both to deep feelings and relationships. They can overdramatize their feelings to the discomfort of others. They like to be liked and to have their efforts appreciated. Yet often when praise comes their way, Royals deflect it. the glass is always half empty. They experience a cycle of expectation and then regret. Royals experience the onset of a high with any new venture that they are close to, but, invariably, regret follows as the Royals. thoughts turn to what is missing in the venture. The Royal Family need to learn to value the flat, ordinary moments in all undertakings, and take their attention off the dramatic high-low extremes. The unavailability of emotional sustenance can lead to melancholy, even depression.

The daily passage of time with its routine tasks is of little consequence to the Royal Family. They live for the grand-scale occurrences that color what they often feel is the dull oblivion of the rest of their lives. The time when deep feelings emerge in interactions, or on projects, is memorable; yet Royals cannot recall the ordinary matters of everyday life. It is hard for the Royal Family to stay in the present moment. NOW is filled with nostalgia and associative memories of options not exercised and “if only” thinking. This year’s highlights are seen in the rosy-hued mythic light of significant moments of the past. The Royal Family measures their lives by dramatic interpersonal events beyond the passage of time.


If you are a Detacher your predominant mode of being is mental. Being inner-directed, moving away from people, and seeking to make sense of the world through mental processes and activities, are central preoccupations. The realm of the mind is where you feel most comfortable: living in the imagination, conceptualizing, fantasizing, analyzing, forming contexts, and synthesizing, are all based on mental activity. Even when you are with people, you tend to escape into your mind. planning other options, running other scenarios, looking for new concepts to make ideas lock together. Your energy is mental. Some Detachers escape into the imagination where ideas swing freely. a state of mind called monkey-mind. Other Detachers question everything in their minds and voice their doubts. They like to think through the hard questions to build a fail-safe argument. Yet others live in an investigative mental mode: seeking knowledge to build interconnections among ideas and come to new understandings.

Key Issues for Detachers

  • Interconnections: seeking the key among ideas to unlock life’s big-picture puzzles.
  • Mental argument: seeking certainty through logic and rational thinking.
  • Imagination: fantasizing, creating pleasant options, with a major emphasis on planning.


Observers move away from people. By detaching from the outer world and realizing their thoughts and emotions in a rich inner life, Observers feel secure. They minimize participation as a way of keeping their inner selves intact. They need more privacy and private time than most people do. When alone they relive experiences and can find it easier to get in touch with feelings than when living them the first time.

Helpers struggle to know their own needs, but instinctively know the needs of others. They are sensitive to other people’s feelings. What motivates them at work and at play is knowing what others need. Helpers convey feelings of warmth, understanding, and genuine concern in their interactions. Sometimes they feel frustrated because they’re not able to do as much for others as they would like. To feel comfortable with others, Helpers rely on interpersonal alignment; they can be sweetly effusive, sincere and quietly empathetic, firm and plain-talking-all at the same time depending on the person with whom they are interacting. Helpers have to be careful, but can juggle several personas concurrently. They pitch their conversations to elicit approval from others. The subtext of their conversation is based on personal appeal: “Look what I can do for you. You need my help. I am here to serve you.” They feel misunderstood if others think they’re trying to manipulate them: they want to be perceived as warm-hearted and sensitive.

Observers connect with others through an exchange of ideas. They try to be impassive and objective, stony-faced in meetings, to convey that everyones’ ideas are equally valid. Often accused of being unresponsive, the rejoinder is that all ideas are listened to without value judgments. Observers maintain that by not talking unnecessarily; they empower others who need to be listened to. From the Observers. point of view their detachment shows respect for their peers. boundaries. Yet colleagues may interpret their noninvolvement as negative lack of interest.

Observers are careful about how they spend their time and energy. They apportion time to anticipated demands- being in the office, attending a meeting, traveling to a client. Unexpected demands and spontaneous invitations are jarring; they assess the demand with a reactive response: “What will I get for my time?” Time spent in mental pursuits is time well-spent: Observers hold dear the notion that knowledge is power. Knowledge is never given away wholesale; people have to earn access to the Observers hard-won treasure-house through diligent effort and evidence of real thinking.


Questioners regard the world as inherently unsafe, and they seek certainty and safety, their attention focused on potential threats. Highly imaginative, they are as good at locking onto what is potentially, as well as what actually is, dangerous. Questioners either run away from danger or meet it full force. If something is thought through in a logical way, the conclusion is reliable. Thinking things through and skepticism are high on the Questioners. list. To feel safe with people, Questioners want evidence that they can interact with their own thinking. Doubting peoples. intentions, they generate an interrogative climate around themselves, where argument and counterargument are welcomed so that everyone ends up with clear conclusions, albeit drawn from different perspectives.

Questioners believe that everyone can think deductively. They want peers to come up with probing questions that reveal thought and skepticism. Their own questioning attitude to life can make them come across as sharp and critical. People often misinterpret anxious prodding at their thinking as personal attacks, or being treated with unwarranted suspicion. Questioners can be perceived as setting up a case against a peer.

Questioners are ambivalent about themselves in positions of leadership. They alternate between being rigidly authoritarian and nonauthoritarian. Their own inner doubts cause the swing. When they are afraid of being challenged, they exert control, when they are filled with inner conviction, they relax and become permissive. Seeking predictability and safety, they view the authority of their bosses with skepticism. Periods of blind allegiance oscillate with rebellious insurrection.

Questioners are constantly vigilant; an inner radar system seeks out the hidden intentions of others. This wariness is often perceived as reactive negativism. Unanswered questions, or unexpressed anger, undermines the basis of trust they have built with colleagues. Procrastination sets in until doubts are resolved, until the Questioner can separate negative feedback from a personal attack.

Questioners can put aside personal doubts in service of a cause – they are loyal to the company, or an idea. Once established, their inner conviction lets them feel certain in promoting their cause. They trust objective data far more than personal assurances. Questioners see danger in acting openly, but inaction, procrastination, is equally dangerous through missed deadlines and failed enterprises. Yet Questioners can act on behalf of others, and rally the troops behind a person or ideal in which they believe. Once committed, they are generally loyal.

Questioners experience time as an authority looming over them and which they must obey. In fact most of the people and circumstances in their lives become the authority with which they must wrestle. They perceive themselves as constantly on the rack of responsibility to satisfy the authority whatever form it takes.


Optimists are focused on future plans and new and exciting options. When reality bites, Optimists escape into an inner world where there are no limits; being occupied with upbeat ideas obviates painful circumstances. High-energy Optimists have many balls in the air. They focus on keeping them up there. Optimists are fascinated by ideas and interesting options, such as the way to change a process, or design a new plant. They dislike doing the same thing the same way twice – new input, new ideas from articles, new problems present exciting directions to try.

Optimists are process people, planners. The plan’s the thing, the doing of it is left to lesser beings. They can spend hours at their desks thinking through how to present material or a promotion plan. Optimists never feel they have exhausted the possibilities of their subject – the layers, the variety, the complexity are fascinating. Optimists imbue positive mental energy and alertness, their minds race with myriad ideas and responses. Often their associative mental leaps to creative conclusions are too fast for others to follow. Peers need to tell them to slow down their thinking. Colleagues can feel swept away by the Optimists’ mental intensity.

Optimists are fluid, multioptional thinkers, they assume that others are also comfortable with shifts in direction, choosing between options, and moving among ideas. Optimists exercise mental ellipses and reframe concepts in ways that baffle other thinkers. There is always another way to present the material; and to the Optimist, on-the-spot ideas – as they arise – seem brilliant and important to throw into the mix, now. It is hard to pinpoint the Optimists’ position; they are mercurial; ideas and concepts do intersect and connect, and options change as new information is acquired and processed.

Optimists try to grasp at the pattern of another person’s thinking: how that person sees themselves, what are the components of their thinking, what issues fascinate them; are they detail or big-picture thinkers, open to new possibilities, or conservative? They subconsciously classify people by how they think. Discovering how others think allows Optimists to get on with them by mirroring a perspective, or framing an approach. The ability to form patterns and make mental connections is of basic concern to Optimists. Optimists can come across as having a sense of personal entitlement as they believe people are entitled to a pleasant life. Your time, effort, and attention are at their disposal. They’ll charm and disarm you.

Optimists experience time like an elastic band with an almost infinite capacity to expand. Time expands to enable them to fit in all their plans and options. Time does not impose limit around their commitments.


If you are a Defender your predominant mode of being is instinctual. Being aware of boundaries around yourself, your tendency is to feel brushed up against people – you need to establish your space: here I am deal with me. Intuition, “gut” feelings, and nonverbal information are important. The body is where you sense your relationships to others and to the world. You have an intuitive information-gathering system. You say: “I feel it in my body.” “I have a gut feel for that.” You have a belly laugh. It is easy for you to lose yourself behind your boundaries’ a state of mind called self-forgetting. Sometimes you can feel like a mouse rattling around in a great suit of armor. Some Defenders make their presence felt by being confrontations and combative. Other Defenders are stubborn and signal that they won’t be pushed around when they take a passive-aggressive stance. Yet others establish their self-identity and protect interpersonal boundaries through being critical and judgmental.

Key Issues for Defenders

Instinct: trusting their intuitive sense of how they feel about something is the only way for Defenders to feel comfortable.

Being heard: it is important to Defenders’ sense of self that people listen when they have something to say.

Feeling respected: this helps Defenders establish their space, and enables them to be present.


Bosses live with an innate sense of power and control. Confrontation for the Boss is a way of reading the world, of establishing where the power is, and of knowing who has control. Exerting control is a way of moving through what to the Boss is an inherently unjust world. Bosses use confrontation as a way of connecting with others. They assume that confrontation is part of interactions; those who stand up for themselves are most able and most open. If Bosses sense that someone is not being honest, they will push and push, to provoke a response. When Bosses feel a connection with someone who stands up for what they believe, they will become a protector and do everything to support that person. Bosses empower those under their protection with a mixture of challenge and support. They do not tolerate weakness in people, unless they see where it’s coming from. Their anger can be devastating and abusive. Bosses commit themselves with passionate conviction to what they do. Often their anger arises in defense of a belief system, but they come across as personally confrontational. Bosses spend a lot of time mending fences.

Bosses make their own rules. They believe rules are to be broken. This often causes a dilemma: how to hold the structure of the organization, while believing those rules and regulations are not always productive or beneficial. Bosses take charge. They do not realize their own force. Control is a survival strategy: peers and colleagues either fall in line or resist. Bosses want to establish how people operate under pressure. Bosses are invested in finding out where people stand. Cower, defy, resist, comply – this information is vital to those who are` constantly judging if it is safe to lower their guard and be vulnerable. Vulnerability means exposure, feeling fragile, being open to people coming after them. Bosses come across as powerful. It is difficult for peers to know that the other side of the bombastic Boss is soft sentimentality.

As with rules, Boss’s control time: if his meeting runs late, that’s okay, but don’t be late for his meeting. Dominant Bosses like to be on centerstage, such as when they are in charge, then people know their impact. Other times of less-high-intensity are of little consequence and can be forgotten, fudged, or ignored. Bosses think they own time; and that delusion of control often blind-sides them when they are caught in the consequences of their power rushes’ deadlines and appointments missed, angry or anguished colleagues, bosses and peers knocking at the door, demanding an explanation.


Peace Keepers are reluctant self-starters, their attention is focused on the agendas of others. They have forgotten themselves, energy and motivation arise from without, not from within. They try to create a climate of harmonious interaction wherever they are – don’t rock the boat – there are many sides to every question. They are natural mediators, although conflict and dealing with conflict is distracting and exhausting. A satisfactory day at work has more to do with watching others work productively together than a feeling of self-achievement. Nines easily establish rapport and laid back comfort with colleagues.

Peace Keepers believe in the concept of a level playing field – it is hard to establish objectives and priorities when every person, every idea, every project gets equal time. Others’ demands can be too pressing, but Peace Keepers become obstinate and obdurate rather than display overt anger. They believe expressing anger is damaging, so they rarely allow themselves to be overtly angry, hence others do not always take their anger seriously. Anger usually takes the form of passive aggressive-behavior – a go-slow attitude to work deadlines, procrastination in getting things done.

Peace Keepers see the world as a flat, even place-setting priorities, for example, is difficult because all demands are equally important, as are making choices or reaching decisions. Peace Keepers delay by constantly weighing up the pros and cons and seeking advice. This gives them breadth of information, but makes action even more difficult. Peace Keepers feel comfortable sitting on the fence, but colleagues can feel mired in the Peacekeeper’s indecision.

Peace Keepers believe everything happens in its own time; given enough time, priorities, choices, decisions, sort themselves out. Time sets its own course and carries Peace Keepers to where they are going to end up anyway. Whatever is not completed that day, or week, or quarter, will be done thereafter. There is always more time to attend to everything.


Perfectionists live in world where a sense of inner direction drives them to achieve. They seek perfection in an imperfect world. They live with an innate sense of what’s right. they think they know what’s wrong and how to fix it. Things must be done the right way, they do things right and are judgmental of those who don’t. Perfectionists believe in what they say and do.

They feel they owe it to themselves and others to be competent to handle any details, whether it’s a presentation or a process. They focus on the details and facts. Ideas and materials are conveyed in ways that model precision, ethics, and responsibility. They have a convincing, albeit preachy, way of communicating, underscored with “right thinking” messages. Others can feel judged if they disagree with Perfectionists. Yet their moralistic energy, which may sometimes be overzealous, is largely appreciated as authentic and inspiring.

When they are committed, Ones are inspiring leaders and colleagues, imbuing others with the force of their own inner conviction. Perfectionists are obsessively self-critical. They spend hours preparing material, deliberately building a model from intricate details. They struggle to make complex notions orderly, and are uncomfortable with open-ended options. They also do not like changing gear halfway through a process.Nonetheless plans B, C, and D, while not always written out, are at their fingertips to cope with the unexpected.

Perfectionists have to deal with a severe inner critic that produces an unrelenting commentary on their lives. They realize the critic is a feature of their own consciousness, but find it extremely difficult to ignore such a familiar manifestation of their thinking. Paying attention to the inner critic is a major drain of time and energy. Any activity and its progress is monitored against the critic’s measure of perfection: “Do it right, or don’t do it at all.” Deadlines are a struggle, because the inner pressure to produce a perfect piece of work also has to be perfectly timed. They can resent others who don’t do things properly, although they try not to show open anger.

Perfectionists live under the whip of time. The inner critic drives them to account for themselves. Their work schedules mirror their preoccupation with correctness – good people work hard and play later, maybe. Procrastination arises with fear of making mistakes. Time is siphoned away from a project by a Perfectionist paying too much attention to time-consuming details. Work schedules reflect time well-spent — meetings, appointments, preparation — the “must dos.” There is no free time to schedule “time off” for pleasure and fun.


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